Self-seeking economists & their fans

by Serban V.C. Enache

A year ago, on Twitter, I called Ann Pettifor incompetent and Frances Coppola a bitch. I got a lot of flack because I stated my mind. I personally didn’t make a big deal of it, even though Steve Keen hopped on the thread, swearing at me, trying to get me to apologize and then blocking me and encouraging others to block me as well. Patricia Pino jumped in too to claim that I owe those two respect because reasons. And Stephanie Kelton contributed a single word, saying “shame” to me.

Now it’s been brought to my attention that there’s a big split between the heterodox camps. Pettifor and Coppola calling MMT a cult [well, there are cultists in every organization or behind any leader or set of ideas], picking various beefs with MMTers. Hacks like Jo Mitchell employing strawmen and ad hominems against people like Bill Mitchell via proxy. That sort of thing. People tried to do that to me too, labeling me a sexist because of the language I employed and the jokes I cracked. One can’t criticize the #METOO political phenomenon without being in league with the rapists, it seems. And apparently I was ruining MMT and being a racist too because I invoked Oswald Mosley’s Birmingham proposals in this post as evidence that he was one of the founders of modern money – and inside those quoted paragraphs, Mosley refers to modern money theory. I wonder if Friedman got such flack when he said “We are all Keynesians now.” As a result of all this, MMTers blocked me, many of them. And I blame them for why it’s no longer raining in Bucharest [drip, drip, rain].

Anyhow, due to this conflict on social media among and between self-seeking economists and their fanboys and fangirls, I thought I’d explain why I portrayed Pettifor as incompetent and Coppola a bitch.

Firstly, Pettifor wrote this tweet in 2015, “The concept of sectoral balances belongs to the sphere of accounting, not economics. I am not comfortable with it [using the equation in economic analysis].” I never heard a dumber thing from a professional economist. I thought she had taken down that nonsense, but she didn’t. In interviews or articles, she could never bring herself to say ‘deficit spending’ or ‘fiscal debits’ when talking about how a currency issuer funds its spending. She used expressions like “loan finance” [wuut?]. She claims “The sale of gilts provides the government with finance for investment and expenditure.” So the currency issuer funds itself by selling someone Gov debt in exchange for Gov debt? This claim violates logic and accounting. The sale of gilts has nothing to do with funding. Funding is secured through spending. I place an obligation on the public in sovereign fiat, I spend [purchasing labor and materials necessary for my goals], then I tax a portion of what I spent. Selling gilts is about draining liquidity from the buyers of the gilts and rewarding them with interest.

In one of her articles, Pettifor tries to address the issue of asset price inflation. She calls for a Tobin tax and for higher property taxes. A Tobin tax won’t fix the problem, it may dampen it by a soft measure, but it won’t stop or seriously curb speculation. Property taxes are regressive, as they penalize property owners who invest to develop their property. Property taxes incentivize idleness: less value in the property, smaller tax bill. Pettifor claims that higher land values dampen productivity. That is only partially correct, or partially incorrect. Untaxed land values are the problem. Privatized land values are the problem. But I don’t expect economists today, be they left, right, or center, orthodox or heterodox, to distinguish between Capital and the Natural Commons. It’s better to just conflate the two for some reason.

As for why I called Coppola a bitch? Well, isn’t it obvious? Because of her fake outrage. Because of the way she sets people up for drama, so she can get hits on her blog and become ‘important’ on social media. Arrogant. Preachy. Her self-entitled feminism, or faux feminism [depends on how one defines contemporary feminism]. Sore loser. Virtue signaler. The way she exaggerates things to make it seem like something extraordinary happened on her watch and only she had the wits to see it. Click-baiting. Like when she falsely advertised a few years ago that some person was debunking MMT in her blog’s comments section – but then Stelios Xanthopoulos had a looksy and it was all a bunch of strawmen. He asked where’s the actual debunking, and all Coppola was able to do was deflect – a ‘go ask him’ type of response. As for the plight of the WASPI women, Coppola’s answer “Go get a job.”

I could go on, but this is enough. At the end of the day, I have no stake in it. I don’t have books to sell you on finance and economic theory. I don’t have a career in this field, I don’t have steps to ascend. So notoriety of any kind on this subject matter earns me zero dimes. I’m not chasing University positions, book deals, or government positions. I can think, and feel, and say whatever I wish. And I hope that more people would think for themselves, instead of living their life as fanboys and fangirls, attending an endless game of soccer politics, engaged in permanent tribalism.